Police are investigating a case of severe vandalism at one of Yerushalayim’s best-known shul’s, the Moussaieff Synagogue in the Bukharian quarter. Mispallelim who arrived for the early-morning tefillah on Thursday were shocked to see a large amount of damage, including a ceiling with many of the light fixtures torn out, overturned tables and chairs, and damage to the bimah in one of the central sanctuaries of the shul complex.
Gabba’im and caretakers of the shul told police that they had received phone calls overnight Wednesday saying that Arabs carrying metal poles and other weapons were in the area of the shul. They rushed to the building, only to find that the vandalism had already taken place. The caretakers reported the phone calls to police, and police initially thought the attack was motivated by nationalistic Arab motivations. However, a check of security cameras indicated that along with the Arabs, there were several people who appeared to be Jewish involved in the vandalism, leading police to believe that a local dispute was behind the damage.
“Overnight, police received reports about damage that was caused to the ceiling of a beit knesset in the center of Yerushalayim,” a police statement said. “Police have opened an investigation, the initial results of which indicate that the damage was apparently due to an ongoing dispute between members of the synagogue.”
The Moussaieff Synagogue is considered one of the main institutions for Sephardic Jews in Yerushalayim, a center of shiurim given by many Rabbanim and talmidei chachamim. It was for years the location where Hagaon Harav Ovadia Yosef, zt”l, would give his well-attended Motzoei Shabbos shiurim, and currently features shiurim by many other senior Rabbanim in the Sephardic community.